Maybe something good emerged from European draw shambles - Sue Smith on Football

Football is in new territory at the moment and needs commonsense and flexibility more than ever. Sadly it has been in short supply.

With so many games this weekend called off because of Covid-19, it would have been better if the Premier League and Football League had postponed the whole round of matches.

Some teams have called off matches because of the number of infections in their squads, but I feel for those who have had to keep going.

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Maybe it was a smokescreen, but maybe Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes had a point when she talked about the anxiety some of her players were feeling as they played - and lost - in the Champions League with some of the squad missing through illness. It would be understandable if players are worried about taking the virus home to their families.

Missing man: Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic. Picture: Adam Davy/PA

Plenty of fans might be having second thoughts about going to packed stadiums today and while some clubs have enough players fit will they have enough stewards to carry out the extra checks needed this week?

As some teams rack up games in hand, it would be better for the integrity of the competition if everyone just took the weekend off.

But right at the very top of European football, common sense has been in short supply this week. We saw that with the way UEFA handled Tottenham Hotspur’s outbreak, and a Champions League draw which descend into an utter farce.

But when European football’s governing body finally decided who will play who in the first knockout round, I think they came up with a draw which sets up all four English clubs for good runs in the competition.

Spurs face being thrown out of this season’s Europa Conference League after they postponed Rennes’ visit because of the number of players they had out with Covid-19. I really felt for Spurs. UEFA were insisting they play their match by December 31 but why? Surely they can find a later time?

Would they rather Spurs played their academy players or worse still pretend asymptomatic players have not got it?

The same lack of common sense was on show at Monday’s Champions League draw. Manchester United were not in the pot they ought to have been, and the result was a complete shambles.

The only solution was to redraw it but it took a couple of hours’ arguing.

The only draw I have ever done was for the Women’s FA Cup, which is obviously not on the same scale, but even then we had to go in around two hours before to practice and make sure we knew exactly what to expect.

To blame an external provider was poor. UEFA should just have taken responsibility.

The Champions League draw is super-complicated but I was in the Sky Sports studio at the time and my colleague Rob Wotton spotted something was up immediately. There were experienced people there who should have voided it immediately. Perhaps no-one wanted to make that decision.

Errors happen but there will have been fans who as soon as the draw was made were trying to book flights before they sold out. There might have been Chelsea fans who booked for Lille then cancelled it, only to be drawn against them again three hours later.

I worry it might take a little bit away from the competition.

If Liverpool get knocked out by Inter Milan some people will say if they played Salzburg, as originally planned, they could have got through.

The teams who got a tougher second draw are bound to be unhappy.

A lot could change between now and when the games are played in February but the teams to fear are all English except for Bayern Munich, a machine with a bit of everything.

Ajax have looked good but I would not fear them. Paris Saint-Germain have good players on paper but do not press or work hard enough, leaving their midfielders too much to do. Barcelona are a bit of a mess, which is sad to see.

You can debate if the dominance of the Premier League is good for European football but like a lot of English fans, I am just pleased to have the best teams and managers performing for us every week.